Riding its present wave of development, Bangladesh announced a tax holiday for active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and laboratory reagent manufacturers until the year 2032. The move that is expected to encourage the developing of pharmaceutical products within its borders has been hailed as the right move to end its current dependency on China and India.
Ironically, India had similarly declared 2015 to be the year of APIs, but saw no progress on this front. Now, there are concerns about the fact that Bangladesh could rival India as a manufacturer of generic medicines because of this recent move by its government. Perhaps of greater irony is the fact that India was on a similar path back in the 1970s, but has since moved away from pursuing this path in the last several years. This is where Bangladesh can gain the edge, according to experts in the field.
India is currently sourcing over 60% of its APIs from outside the country on the lower end of the spectrum, bordering on 90% for some more specific APIs. The way to think of APIs is as the ingredients to help formulate existing or future treatments for medical conditions, so having such a high dependency means that the pharmaceutical industry, while showing almost three percent growth from the previous year, is very much at the mercy of external market forces and regulators. Bangladesh has circumvented this dependency by encouraging production of APIs at home, which together with the ability to produce finished formulations could easily see the country able to produce medicines patented in India, but which India as the patent holder will not be able to put into production due to its own backpedalling on similar policies.